Fate of Monroe County Animal Shelter uncertain after County Commission votes against supporting it

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MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The fate of the only animal shelter in Monroe County is uncertain after county commissioners voted against a plan to help a local nonprofit construct a new shelter.

The current shelter is old and deteriorating, so the Monroe County Friends of Animals, which partners with the county animal shelter, created a plan to build and manage a new animal shelter. They just needed the county to cover half of the costs of operation.

According to the MCFA, the county currently funds two-thirds of the shelter’s operating costs, paying for staff salaries, rent, and utilities. MCFA contributes one-third of the current shelter’s costs, funding the animals’ food, medicine, and medical treatment. Plus, the local nonprofit group recruits and coordinates all the shelter’s essential day-to-day volunteer efforts; and has secured more than $150,000 in grants to pay for needed repairs at the shelter.

Under the new proposal, MCFA would build and manage a new animal shelter for the county. MCFA would incur all the additional costs of the new shelter and hire a shelter director and a staff of employees. The county would agree to contract with MCFA in an amount that is essentially what they are spending now (adjusted for inflation). This public-private arrangement would, by MCFA’s best estimates, result in a 50-50 split of the direct costs of operation.

At the June 22 county commission meeting, the resolution failed in a 5-5 split vote. Now, the focus is on what the next steps will be if the current shelter doesn’t survive.

Monroe County Friends of Animals president Jim Barrett says he was shocked the plan wasn’t voted through.

“We have been working on an agreement with the county for three years and were optimistic that the county would vote to do the right thing and move ahead with the new shelter. We made a very generous offer to the county,” Barrett said.

Barrett has fought a long hard fight, but now he says it may be up to the public to keep the shelter going and save the animals.

“I don’t know where we go from here. There’s very little more that our organization can do. The only way the county can see it’s way forward is if the people let them know that they want a shelter operation in this county,” Barrett said.

Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram sent the following statement to WATE 6 On Your Side:

“Although the vote was tied we are encouraged by the willingness to keep discussions ongoing, our goal is to come to a solution that all parties and most importantly our tax payers are comfortable with in providing the best possible animal services.”

Mitch Ingram, Monroe County Mayor

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